India to work at superspeed: PM Modi

New Delhi: “This time belongs to India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, asserting that the “curse of incremental thinking” had for long hampered India‘s progress till his government changed this mindset in the bureaucracy and the administration. He justified the White Paper on the decade-long Congress-led UPA government, saying if he had preferred political expediency over national interest, he could have brought this out much earlier but that would have created panic.

Speaking at the ET Now Global Business Summit on Friday, Modi said he has been in the process of preparing the roadmap for his third term for the last 18 months and has taken feedback from over 1.5 million people till now. General elections are due to be held in April-May.

“New Bharat will work at superspeed – this is Modi’s guarantee,” he said.

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Money saved is money earned, he said, adding that direct benefit transfer (DBT) has weeded out 100 million fake beneficiaries and put the funds into the bank accounts of the deserving.

DBT has saved ₹3 lakh crore of public money while JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, mobile) has saved another ₹6,500 crore.

“When the curse of incremental thinking infects you, you bind yourself into limits,” Modi said, adding that when he took over as Prime Minister in 2014, he found the bureaucracy was also suffering from this malaise and there was an urgent need to change the mindset. Doing so has led to record achievements in infrastructure development and the completion of ambitious projects in a time-bound manner. He also underlined that people know that the PM inaugurates the projects for which he lays the foundation stone.

Striking an optimistic note, he recalled the views expressed about India in international forums, especially at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

“The trust of the whole world in India is constantly increasing. An unprecedented enthusiasm towards India was seen at Davos…. There is no place where India does not have clout today… One expert called India a raging bull… Never before was there so much positive sentiment towards India. I had said at my Red Fort (Independence Day) speech, yahi samay hai, sahi samay hai,” Modi said.

‘A Virtuous Cycle has Begun’

He added that the country has carved a niche in both digital and physical infrastructure development.

The PM asserted that there comes a time when all aspects become favourable and this is that moment. A virtuous cycle has begun, he said, with the economic growth rate rising and the fiscal deficit shrinking. Exports are swelling, the current account deficit is falling. Investment is rising, inflation is under control. Opportunity and income are going up, poverty is falling. Consumption and corporate profit are up, banks’ non-performing assets have seen a record reduction. Production and productivity are also up.

In a lighter vein, the Modi said even his critics are at an all-time low.

Economic discipline has been the hallmark of his dispensation, the Prime Minister emphasised, and cited the interim budget as a prime example. It has won all-round praise for not being populist. Stability, consistency and continuity have been and will be the motto in future, he said.

The fightback against the Covid pandemic was another example where, Modi said, he had not paid heed to some countries which insisted on more and more spending. “Jaan hai to jahaan hai,” Modi recalled his slogan then and said India has managed to control inflation while also performing its duty of being a welfare state.

He justified the White Paper, saying if he wanted to play politics, he could have presented it during the 2019 general elections or even in 2014 when he had taken over as PM. The economic situation then was alarming and bringing a White Paper then would have caused panic, he said.

“I would have gained by playing politics over it but I chose rashtra niti (national interest) over rajniti (political expediency),” he said.

Charging the opposition and capitalists with discussing ‘garibi hatao’ (poverty alleviation) from air-conditioned rooms, he maintained that only when the son of a poor person became PM did this programme take off. He said 250 million people were raised from poverty in the last decade.

Modi said his government’s budgets had followed four principles – pushing capital expenditure to record levels, unprecedented investment on welfare schemes, controlling wasteful expenditure and financial discipline.

The theme of the summit – Disruption, Development and Diversification – was highly apt, the PM said.

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Harry Byrne

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